I was a late bloomer. Still all eyes and ears and braces well into eighth grade. By the time I got to high school I’d at least lost the metal mouth, but my chest size and height had yet to catch up. It took the rest of those four years for me to grow into the five feet and seven inches that I stand at today. But it took freshman year of college and the late night mac and cheese with real butter and Steak and Shake runs with all kinds of animal fats that my hippie mother just never cooked for me, in order for my full size C-cups to show up. With them came all kinds of positive (read negative) attention from all sorts of boys and girls and men.
It was an interesting introspective developing an ample chest as an eighteen year old. I had spent years in a tight little athletic body, and I knew what it was like for boys to look at me. But now, there were boys and men who didn’t just look, they stared like they had x-ray vision, or hoped they might develop it if they looked hard enough. This ogling has never really stopped, and it hasn’t mattered whether I choose to wear a low-cut tank top or a turtleneck – the boobs are there, so they stare.
Then, I got pregnant. My C’s went to D’s and the stares were ever there, more than ever maybe, because now even my friends were paying attention. My belly grew and grew, and grew some more. Finally, my chest was no longer the focus of attention. I liked that. It felt good to walk through the turnpike rest stop and not just have old men and acne covered teenagers staring south of my face, but to have children and women too staring at my big round belly. There was an almost fully formed person in there! So yeah, go ahead and stare.
Then, I had the baby, and then, I made milk. My breasts reached their personal best. Bigger than before and fully functional as food for my child. It makes him grow. Which makes me so proud. It is the most useful thing my chest has ever done, and that’s only competing with getting a guys rocks off or getting me out of golfing. (I could never relearn my swing once they got in the way.)
Now, my breasts are out there for people to see. And isn’t that what they always wanted? But it isn’t in a “show us your boobs,” Mardi Gras, kind of way. Not even in an “I’m breast feeding loud and proud” kind of way. Just in a regular, “I need to feed my kid, you might see some chest slip out from behind his head or this blanket,” kind of way. And it turns out, it’s not what they always wanted. It turns out, people are offended by that.
I’m talking to you shameless oglers of breasts, the lot of you. Why is it all, show us what you got, baby, until they become breasts feeding a baby, and then you are insulted by the sight of them?
You know what, don’t answer that. My baby already has a readily formed response. So here’s that, and your fair warning. As long as I’ve had them, you’ve stared at my boobs while they have been adequately concealed. For the next year or so (God willing) they will be a lot less concealed. I feel like I’ve earned that much for all the ogling over the years and for the fact that I’m sustainably, naturally, lovingly, and selflessly feeding my child. If you don’t feel that way, again, this photo of Jack says it sufficiently.
Just to be painstakingly clear, I am not comfortable with anyone staring at me, or anyone, especially not in a non-consenting sexual capacity. In case your mother forgot to tell you, staring is rude. This is simply a comment on how staring openly at young girls is more acceptable in our society than at a mother nursing her child.
Here are 12 women who didn’t. And succeeded because of their convictions.
The sister stands to the side, she sighs. Four weeks to the day since her divorce was final. Six months since she walked out the door. Her sister’s engagement doesn’t make her miss her ex-husband, not a thing could induce such emotions, but it does make her feel her aloneness.
There is a thing in this culture, a big stark white elephant in the room or the park or the engagement party, about a woman alone. She doesn’t have a date, so something must be wrong with her. Is she a lesbian? The relatives begin to ask. The complicated affairs which ended her marriage are too convoluted to share with Aunt Ida, so she asks her nephew if his daughter is of another persuasion. Because how could a pretty, smart, seemingly sane girl, be alone? She feels, and the rest of the party would be lying if they disagreed, that there is something wrong with her.
A single man is a bachelor. He’s playing the field, taking his time, finding the right choice. A single woman is waiting, idle while the universe decides when the right man should come along. As if she has nothing to do with the matter when it’s right, however, everything to do with it when it’s wrong. Some wrong choice that she made, or series of choices, that left her flawed, flippant, or scorned.
She sighs again and finishes her champagne. Fuck you Aunt Ida, she thinks, walking away. Nothing is wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with alone.
Have you ever wanted to punch someone? Not in that – the person talking too loudly on their cell phone next to you in an otherwise quiet, slow moving-line deserves a quick back hand to the mouth – kind of way. I mean, for reasons that are clearly written in the code of human decency, someone is asking to get knocked around. A guy, for example, has pushed his way into a group of girls, and you actually feel it would be a disservice to the world and all of the humanity resting upon it if this person is allowed to say even one more syllable.
By now, your hand is twitching and while you’ve been keeping it still with a glass of bourbon, it’s down to just rocks and they’re giving away your frustration. Your girlfriend gives you a sideways glance and you’re pretty certain she’s surprised that you’ve let this Heineken-fueled tool stay on his feet for as long as you have. He has been asked politely to leave by two of the girls in the group, and the poor dear with his unwanted arm draped over her shoulder has become a slouched shadow. The third attempt is about to get loud. So, you put the glass down.
“Do me a favor, guy,” I say, and yeah I probably have my hand in his face by then, just so he knows his last chance had passed. “Listen to the ladies, and walk the fuck away.”
Next thing I know, I’m outside looking in. The room is no longer a space occupied by people, it is the being. Drinks float out of their glasses and into the air at a rate that appears to defy the natural laws of gravitation pull. Everyone jumps up at once but none of that is any concern to me because this puffed up short-guy actually chest pumped me and now all I want, with a raw, aching desire, is to be sure that my fist meets his face with the proper torque and accuracy.
The manager’s voice is somewhere in the background shouting orders at waiters who take light-years to appear and when they do, they act with no more strength than that of children. A table is knocked over and wood cracks and splits. The fluidity of the room moves people around like waves crashing.
I can hear my name coming from someone very, very far away. The only thought I process is that someone is holding my right hand back and if I want to swing on this guy it’s going to be a left cross. But in order to do that, I’d have to release the grip that I have on his neck, which is the only solid thing left in the room at that exact time. I finally shake my hand free and land a punch, right around the time the five waiters seem to restrain the flailing fool.
I walk away. I go through a door and down some stairs and find myself at another bar. My hand isn’t twitching anymore, which I only really notice because of the throbbing emitting from it. I move my jaw from side to side and discern I didn’t take any hits. I clench and unclench my fist and determine that the torque, velocity and force were all accurate. My left hand still has a lingering feeling of holding on to something far too tightly.
I ask for a glass of water. My girlfriend is walking towards me trying to suppress a smile, something that she is lousy at. I am certain that if I had a similar disposition, the talk of the bar upstairs wouldn’t be about the douchebag who was asking for it, but the maniac who was just plain giddy to hit someone. I keep that thought, and all the rest, to myself. And for a while, I’m their hero.
The term “feminist.”
It does not mean I don’t want a boy or girl to open doors for me.
Please hold my hand.
And walk me home.
It does not mean I won’t do the dishes
and the laundry
And feed us.
Which is why
You should too, occasionally
It does not mean that I won’t shave my arm pits
or wax my hairy bits.
It does mean that I’d like you to earn the privilege to comment
on such things.
Which brings me to:
Put a ring on it.
In feminist terms:
Communicate your intentions.
What you want.
How long you want it for.
What your expectations are.
and this is important,
Listen while she tells you her intentions
And her expectations.
Here is the big one:
If I stand
in a teeny bikini
with every inch
of my god given beauty
I shall not fear
that any person
will lay a finger on me.
Keep your laws to yourself, too.
That I reside in
Divinely and unequivocally.
Not as a man
Not as woman
As a person.
And a writer.
A creative thinker, activist, and problem solver.
A mother, a daughter, a lover.
Above and below
and in between
all of those lines.
Not boxed in by them.
Abused by them.
*These, of course, are only my personal opinions and I don’t claim to speak for all people.